Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
2012 Stats: N/A
2013 Stats: .252 BA, 14 HR, 37 RBI, .577 SLG, .894 OPS, 1.8 WAR
I could've easily talked your ear off about Justin Upton's power surge this year, blasting 15 home runs in the first half of the season after hitting just 17 the year before.
However, the biggest surprise for the Braves has been the emergence of catcher Evan Gattis, who went from a depressed janitor to one of the top catchers in the MLB.
After committing to Texas A&M out of high school, Gattis instead checked into a rehab facility for marijuana and alcohol. He was afraid of failing a drug test and never played college ball.
After rehab he tried playing for Seminole State College in Oklahoma but got hurt, quit baseball and mentally snapped (via First Coast News):
I was sitting in a classroom. and I just started crying. I was just like, "This is not what I want my life to be like." So I packed up my bags and got in the car, like, "I'm done."
Gattis' road would lead him to Colorado to work in a ski resort, Wyoming to work in a restaurant, Texas to work as a janitor and New Mexico to seek spiritual guidance.
According to USA Today, Gattis seriously considered suicide before he found his love for baseball once again:
I was in a mental hospital. I couldn't sleep for an entire week, and I knew something was wrong with me. So I got admitted. I was so depressed, all I could think about was killing myself.
I wanted to kill myself for a long time.
Gattis would eventually overcome his depression and work hard to make it back to the majors.
He was supposed to be no more than a fill-in for Brian McCann when the season started, but after hitting home runs in four of his first eight games, Gattis proved that he is much, much more.
Gattis is now tied for the fourth-highest WAR among NL catchers and even leads NL catchers in home runs. He has outperformed McCann in every way this season, and when he returns from the DL, it will be to find that he has carved out a substantial role with Atlanta.
No one could've seen this coming a few years ago, but Gattis is now an elite catcher.